Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why BJP can’t afford to ignore Advani and name Modi for PM

So, it appears that a few hours from now, Narendra Modi could be declared the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, the 'face' of the 2014 polls when a nation weary of corruption and misgovernance goes to polls. The announcement will be made by party president Rajnath Singh who, it is understood, has inexplicably decided to brush aside the tribulations of a phalanx of seniors in the party to go ahead with the declaration. Why the tearing hurry to name Modi as PM? Reuters In fact, he won't be merely brushing aside the likes of L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Yashwant Sinha. He will be telling India that a party that won 18.8 percent of votes in 2009, down from 22.2 percent previously, is expecting to oust a corrupt and non-performing government without the wholehearted support of its seniormost leaders. It must be obvious by now to a very bemused country that there are two massive self-goals here. One, if the BJP has a less than respectable showing in the five Assembly polls scheduled before the general elections, the crystal ball could get quite cloudy around 2014. Under such circumstances, it is highly unlikely that talking up the Modi magic can continue to be the party's dazzling trump card. Two, the all too apparent rifts in the party, especially since almost all the party seniors who have a pan-India appeal — Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Yashwant Sinha — are firmly on one side of this divide. No doubt, they will play their parts once the announcement is made. Even in the eventuality that party patriarch Advani is completely marginalized, one imagines Sinha and Swaraj will keep up a charade of party unity. But it will convince nobody. Worse, whether Rajnath Singh chooses to make a unilateral announcement on Modi's candidature or whether there is some public acrimony among the seniors through a BJP Parliamentary Board meeting, the Congress is waiting gleefully for the spoils. Conversely, if the BJP is confident of a good showing in the five state legislative assemblies for which elections will be held in a couple of months, then there appears to be simply no logical reason to make the PM-candidate announcement in such haste and amid such melodrama and acrimony. Let's face it, even without the official declaration, Modi is considered by most to be the BJP's face of 2014. He will campaign extensively for the party in each of the five states. A post-Assembly win announcement of their PM candidate, with a grinning Modi accepting congratulations for convincing Assembly election victories, is an exceedingly better image to kickstart the 2014 campaign with than a Modi whose only words on the country's top job until now have been that he is committed to serving the people of Gujarat until 2017. Not only is that not the Prime Ministerial candidate the country's fence sitters will be swayed by, but that is also not the candidate who can take along with him BJP leaders from across the country and coalition partners already wary of his individualistic, arrogant image. That's why Rajnath Singh's tearing hurry, prompted no doubt by the RSS, is inexplicable. The BJP has only one hope. To convince Advani to come around.

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